The price of oil hovered under $87 a barrel Wednesday as hopes that the slowdown in Chinese manufacturing might be stabilizing helped shore up sentiment across financial markets.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for December delivery was down 12 cents to $86.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's a distinct improvement on the $1.98 fall on Tuesday, which left the price of oil at a three-month low of $86.67.
In London, Brent crude was up 22 cents to $108.47 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Tuesday's fall was sparked by a slew of disappointing earnings and forecasts released Tuesday by U.S. corporate giants. Revenue fell compared with a year ago at chemical maker DuPont, UPS, Xerox and others.
But sentiment improved after HSBC Inc. released a preliminary version of its monthly China purchasing managers' index, which rose to a three-month high of 49.1. That still was below the 50-point level that indicates a contraction in manufacturing but was a strong improvement from September's 47.9.
China's government has cut interest rates twice since June and is pumping money into the economy through higher investment by state companies and more spending on building subways and other public works.